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Did Font Designers Predict Terror Attacks?

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I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that, just a short week after the terrorist attacks on the east coast, folks were jamming up the Internet with the latest forwarded emails on how this was all predicted some time ago. Funny how those predictions never seem to come out before something happens, isn’t it?

    Sure enough, my old pal Nostradamus, the vaguest seer ever to put pen to paper, has already been credited with predicting the attack on the World Trade Center. Four people now have sent me his alleged warning: “In the city of God there will be a great thunder, two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb. The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.” Way to go, Nostradamus.

    Of course, cynics like myself immediately wonder how, when and why  New York City, much as we love her, was re-named “The City of God.” We’re also amazed by such clarity from Mr. “Never Makes Any Sense” Nostradamus. And the response of those cynics like myself is to head on over to David Emery’s urban legend-busting website, www.urbanlegends.about.com to see what our Guru of Truth has to say.

    Guess what? That email was a hoax. That particular quatrain never made an appearance in any of Nostradamus’ published works. And not only is the email a hoax, it was perpetrated by a lazy hoaxster– the author credits Nostradamus with this prediction in 1654. He died, however, in 1566.

    It was predictable that someone would try to credit Nostradamus with having foreseen last weeks events, but I was quite surprised to have another email inform me that none other than Bill Gates also predicted those events… or at least foreshadowed them.

    “Try this,” I’m ordered. “Open up a Microsoft Word document, type in “NYC” in all caps, then highlight and change the font to Wingdings.” Here’s the result:

Not the greatest thing to have appear, but hardly hot-breaking news; as Emery points out, this was first brought to attention almost a decade ago. “Some at the time not only saw a hidden message in this, they assumed right off it must have been intentional,” he writes. “A 1992 article in the New York Post even proclaimed, in screaming headlines, “Millions of computers carry secret message that urges death to Jews in New York City!” Microsoft, of course, vehemently denied such a charge.

    With the release of the new Webdings font a couple of years later, programmers made up for their earlier public-relations nightmare. Try NYC in Webdings, and here’s what you get:

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Landon Otis

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